The money for the joint initiative will come from EU and national pandemic recovery funds, a fifth of which is already earmarked to support a digital transition within Europe. This could be worth up to €145 billion over the next two or three years, the joint declaration said.
The signatories have agreed to establish advanced European chip design capabilities and production facilities to progress towards leading-edge nodes – such as 2nm – for data processing and connectivity. As that capability is lost in Europe re-acquiring it will take several years and the cost would easily be tens of billions of euros.
Nonetheless, the joint declaration states that there is a new geopolitical reality with major regions reinforcing their local semiconductor ecosystems with a view to avoiding excessive dependencies on imports.
"To ensure Europe’s technology sovereignty and competitiveness, as well as our capacity to address key environmental and societal challenges and new emerging mass markets, we need to strengthen Europe’s capacity to develop the next-generation of processors and semiconductors," the signatories assert.
The initiative has a broad scope It is aiming at creating and manufacturing in Europe trusted, low-power processors, for applications in high-speed connectivity, automated vehicles, aerospace and defence, health and food production, artificial intelligence, data-centres, integrated photonics, supercomputing and quantum computing.
The method will be to build on existing collective effort including those in high performance computing (HPC), the European Processor Initiative and the existing IPCEI (Important Project of Common Europen Interest) on microelectronics. There is a plan to develop a European Flagship IPCEI that would allow increased subsidy of commercial operations.
The joint declaration concluded: "This opportunity to invest in research, design and production capability for processors in Europe should not be missed."
The move was welcomed by the European Commission and other member states were invited to join the project.
The full list of national signatories is Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Malta, Portugal; Slovenia, Finland, Romania, Austria, Slovakia and Cyprus.
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